By Sean Rice
Mercer County Commissioners gave the go-ahead this week to the largest single road project for the county ever, at $2,483,425, to completely upgrade the stretch of Celina-Mendon Road between the city and village.
The project, awarded to Jutte Excavating of Fort Recovery, includes a resurface and widening of the 8.2-mile road as well as widened shoulders and drainage improvements.
Taking the advice of County Engineer Jim Wiecodet, commissioners choose Jutte Excavating over a second offer from The Shelly Company, Belle Center, which issued a bid of $2.54 million.
A grant from the Federal Highway Administration will cover 80 percent of the project, with the county engineer’s budget picking up the remaining 20 percent, Wiecodet said. The project is to start in a few months and be completed this year.
“All these improvements are intended to make the road more safe to the traveling public,” Wiecodet said.
Commissioners also officially adopted a drug-free workplace plan for all county employees, to take effect Tuesday.
Commission Clerk Kim Everman said all requirements of the Ohio Bureau of Workman’s Compensation (BWC) program were completed: each employee received a copy of the policy and attended a two-hour education program.
The policy taking effect is at level one of three available options open to the county. With the program in place, the county will save 10 percent on BWC premiums annually, amounting to approximately $12,000, Everman said.
Under the level-one policy, the major change is that new employees will be drug tested before hiring. Existing county employees could also be tested after an accident or in cases where there is suspicion of drug abuse, Everman explained.
The level-two and level-three policies, which the county will not be following, include random drug tests. Those stricter policies also come with greater cost savings.